For some time, we had been putting together a trip from the east coast of Florida to the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas. We had put a lot of time and effort into planning this trip and were very excited about the journey. The plan was to stay about six weeks, exploring all the tiny islands that make up the northern part of our Island neighbor. Unfortunately, mother nature did not cooperate with us and we had to scrub the mission. Turns out that the water levels in Lake Okeechobee (which we needed to cross in order to get from where we were in Fort Myers over to the other side of Florida) were too shallow for us to safely navigate. They are having a drought in Florida and the lack of rainfall has had a serious impact on the lake levels. So, discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to go to plan "B" and head up the west coast of the state and visit some of the wonderful ports on the Gulf side.
Our first stop was at our old friends Ken and Phyllis Weber's home. When I was a corporate pilot at P&G, Ken was one of the pilots I flew with. He has been retired from flying for many years now but we still keep in touch. As a matter of fact, Ken was partially responsible for us getting into the boating world in the first place. Ken and Phyllis have owned a 56 foot trawler for over 30 years now. Kim and I were so impressed with their boat when we were on it the first time that we thought we would like to own one someday ourselves. So, 20 years later we found ourselves pulling into the Weber's dock outside their home in St. James City, fulfilling a dream from many years past.
To put it mildly, Ken and Phyllis are living the good life. Outside their waterfront home on the shores of San Carlos Bay, is where they keep their boat. They can keep a keen eye on it from the three levels of their home which all have expansive views of the water. They also have a pool and hot tub from where they unwind each evening to the sounds of lapping water and the taste of a fine pinot grigio. (Am I sounding a bit like Robin Leach?) Of course, they invited us to join them for cocktails that afternoon and we happily agreed.
I must tell you that sitting there in his pool with a glass of wine was quite the experience. I wouldn't call it a vulgar display of wealth but rather the fruits of the culmination of many years of planning and lots of just plain dumb luck. We toasted our good fortunes, well aware that we deserved none of it and that it could be all plucked away at any moment. "Carpe diem!" as they say.
We spent a wonderful evening with Ken and Phyllis. They took us to their favorite restaurant (in their Rolls of course!) where we dined on the freshest fish in southwest Florida. From there it was back to the boat for a nightcap and then a good nights sleep.
I hope Kim doesn't get too used to this lifestyle and its going to be hard to replicate it on a daily basis. But I will tell you that if we have learned anything from our short time at sea, its been to enjoy whatever gifts you have been given, whenever possible. You never know what tomorrow might bring.